Cross-checking criminal and fraudulent visa applications to Uganda has become much easier with the introduction of e-immigration since July 1, 2016, spokesperson of the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, Jacob Siminyu, tells Nishitha Shrivastava
“Earlier, we had two minutes to assess a person before granting a visa. Now, we have two days to verify documents, request supporting documents if we are not convinced, and only then grant the visa or permit,” avers Jacob Siminyu, spokesperson, Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control.
Since its introduction in July 2016, the Department has successfully processed over 70,000 applications.
How has the transition from a manual system to an electronic one been?
“Initially, there were hiccups. Our clients did not have sufficient knowledge; others did not accept it (the idea) and were using it begrudgingly. But now we have ironed out those creases, and feedback is positive. It is working smoothly. Many clients are also now also using our email address and social media platforms. We typically respond to emails in 15 minutes and social media is instant,” states Siminyu.
For the uninitiated, this e-immigration system applies to anyone applying for special passes, work permits, student’s passes, dependant passes, certificate of residence, as well as all tourist visas (including single entry/multiple entry/East African tourist).
But has visa-on-arrival been discontinued completely?
“We are still issuing a few visas on arrival, but are hoping to completely shift the system online by June 30, 20017,” says Siminyu.
Exhorting people to switch to the electronic system, the spokesperson says, “It is an extremely easy process. Log onto our website, www.visas.immigration.go.ug.
Once you accept the terms and conditions, you choose your application. It will give you a list of requirements and fees. You should prepare the requirements list before you start filling the form. Pay attention to the type and size of documents mandated. Once you fill the form, attach the required documents and submit. The process should not take more than 20 minutes (which is also the time frame for each application session). We set a ceiling timeframe to keep the system free of overload.”
According to the official, visas application processes are typically completed in three days, and work permits in five days.
However, the main grouse faced by the department is that applicants are not forthcoming at the follow-up stage.
“The portal is very interactive, and updates are possible. But people take time to revert if asked to clarify a document or submit other supporting documents. Clients are not forthcoming, and delay in answering follow-up questions, which is why it gets delayed,” states Siminyu.
On their part, the spokesperson states that the new system has helped increase their speed and productivity.
“We are also now more accountable, because the system leaves an audit trail, so it is easier for auditors too. It helps us prepare reports easily,” he says.